Wednesday, 16 January 2008

A Place in the Auvergne, Wednesday, 16th January, 2008


On a crisp autumn morning, the dew just rising from the fields, dozens of children streamed into the two-room school in this small, poor village. their hair freshly oiled, used rice sacks tucked under their arms for lack of chairs to sit on. So many children streamed in, in fact, that the newly appointed head teacher, Rashid Hassan, pored through attendance books for the first two hours of class and complained bitterly. He had no idea who belonged to which grade. There was no way he could teach. Another teacher showed up 90 minutes late. A third was a no show. The senior-most teacher, the only one with a teaching degree, was believed to be on official government duty preparing voter registration cards. No one could quite recall when he had last taught... Amongst the 20 percent of the population, half are illiterate and barely 2 percent graduate from high school, according to government data. By contrast, among the richest 20% of the population, nearly half are high school graduates and only 2 percent illiterate.

The Canadian government fired its nuclear safety chief, saying Wednesday that her conduct in the closing of a reactor that makes medical radioistophes could have cost lives.
Linda Keen, the president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, was dismissed for refusing to allow a 50-year old reactor at the Chalk River facility in Ontario to reopen after a maintenance shutdown in November. The closing led to a worldwide shortage of radioactive isotopes that are widely used to diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions.

A woman suicide bomber blew herself up near a Shiite mosque in Diyala on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and provoking Shiite militiamen to fire motars at a nearby Sunni village in retaliation.

What does it take to discover something new every day? How do you drill for an oil in ever deeper oceans? How do you transport gas thousands of miles without building a pipeline? How do ou turn waste crops into fuels?
To tackle the world's energy challenges, from oil and gas power to biofuel power, just takes brain power.


Here , where the northern swells of the Appalachian Mountains lap the southern fringe of the Rust Belt, thousands of people who long had tough but sustainable lives are being wrenched into the working poor...
The numbers are more dismal in the southeastern Appalachian part of the state, where 32 percent of families lived below the poverty line [just over $20,000 for a family of four last year] in 2007, and 56% lived with incomes of less than $40,000 for a family of four.


I recently heard about a server case [of midlife crisis] from a patient whose husband of nearly 30 years abruptly told her that he "felt stalled and not self-actualized" and began his search for self-knowledge in the arms of another woman.

In fact the more I learnt about her husband, it became clear that he had always been a self-centred guy who fretted about his lost vigor and was acutely sensitive to disappointment. This was a garden-variety case of a middle-aged narcissist grappling with the biggest insult he had ever faced: getting older.

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